Bobby Thompson (comedian)

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Bobby Thompson
Born Robert Michael Thompson
(1911-11-18)18 November 1911
Penshaw, County Durham, England
Died 16 April 1988(1988-04-16) (aged 76)
North Shields, Tyne and Wear, England
Occupation Comedian
Spouse(s) Eleanor Cicely Palmer
Parent(s) John and Mary Thompson

Robert Michael "Bobby" Thompson (18 November 1911 – 16 April 1988) was a stand-up comedian, actor and entertainer from Penshaw, County Durham.[1] Although he was raised in Penshaw, he also lived in Great Lumley and Barley Mow, near Chester-le-Street, later moving to Whitley Bay.[2]

Early years[edit]

He was the seventh child of John and Mary Thompson, who both died by the time he was 8 years old. He was then raised by his elder sister in the village of Fatfield.

After leaving school at 15, he started worked at North Biddick Colliery, earning 7 shillings and sixpence a week. He would supplement his income by playing the harmonica around local working men's clubs and competing in domino tournaments. His first stand-up performance took place at the Gem Cinema in Penshaw as a young boy.

The comedian was married three times. His second wife, Phyllis, died on 25 April 1967. He announced his engagement to Mary Douglass, 62, of Annfield Plain a few years later, but the engagement was broken off. In 1980, Bobby married his housekeeper, Eleanor Cicely Palmer, more commonly known as Cissy Ward (maiden name Wake). Bobby was her third husband and she was famously taller than he was.


Famous for his broad Pitmatic (County Durham pit village) accent (often mistaken for Geordie), self-deprecating humour and mastery of the mother-in-law joke, Thompson was affectionately known as The Little Waster due to his short stature, which he often played on during his act, describing himself as 'Little Bobby'. His most famous outfit was a worn out stripey jumper (Wooly gansey) and flat cap. His ever-present Woodbine cigarette stub, hanging from the corner of his mouth, was also an integral part of his on-stage persona.

His attempts to move beyond North East England were limited by his accent and the regional bias of his humour, although he did enjoy some success with the BBC show, Wot Cheor Geordie.

He was also renowned for his problems with the tax man, stemming from the fact that he never seemed to pay any. This was an unfortunate fact that he turned to humour in his stage act.

Bobby made recordings of three comedy songs written for him by local composer Eric Boswell: You Little Waster, The Golden Voice of Bobby and When I Was A Lad. The songs incorporated jokes from Bobby's act and When I Was A Lad was even released as a single locally.

Problems with drink, finances and his health affected his career in the 1970s, but he remained a North East favourite, particularly on the club scene, until shortly before his death.


  • "The dole is my shepherd, I shall not work."
  • "She shouts from upstairs, Bobby can yer fix the string on wa carrier bag . . . why am nae engineer."
  • "I'll give ya a bottle o' Brandy if you can tell us you pay the 'lectric bill before you get the red letter."
  • "A man come to oor door. I says come in, tak a seat. He says 'I'm coming in to tak the lot.'"
  • "Wu got off the train at Blackpool, the porter came up an' asked if 'e could carry me baggage. I said 'Na, let 'er walk'."
  • "Wu went into the restaurant an' asked for a coffee. The waiter asked if wu wanted black or white. She says 'I'll have black wi' milk in'."
  • On the night of the 1951 election when the Conservative Party was rumoured to be planning to abolish the National Health Service: "It came tu last orders and the barman shouted 'Come on, let's see yer glasses off', and I said 'Well, them Tories haven't wasted any time, have the!'"
  • "You believe Bobby Thompson. If yu pays what yu owe yu'll never have nowt."
  • "When ya drunk, yu say things yu don't mean. I says to her I love ya. After a wiped the blood off me face ... A says gis a kiss under the mistletoe. She says aks me mother'. I wish a could've found an axe. Aks 'er mother for a kiss under the mistletoe, a wouldn' kiss 'er under chloroform!"
  • "1939 - I was secretary for the street ... I went for treasurer but a was too well known!"
  • "She's putting up sandwiches on the Monday an' wa not gannin till the Wednesday. Well ye kna tinned tomatoes torn claggy"
  • "They came into the court and they woz givin' the papers out to the jurerors (Jury) ... She shouts 'Bobby, there must be a Housie on before the case!'"
  • "The judge said 'You owe seven thousand, can you pay?'... I said 'Give 'im the breathalyser!'"
  • "Noo, Ah divvent kna where aal ye's are from ... (changes to a posh accent) but I'm from Whitley Bay."
  • "She says 'Bobby, we'll just have a two course lunch cos its rather warm'. Two course?! Chips n' sauce!!"
  • "There was a knock at oor door last Wednesday mornin'. He says, 'Am from Littlewoods', I says, 'God bless ya! I've won the treble chance?!' He says, "Nah, your wife's up for shoplifting!"
  • "Now, that's the thing aboot debt. Some calls it debt, ya see, and then there's them what calls it credit. Committee mens' wives, 'on account'. Well, am in debt on account of not being able to pay me credit!"
  • "... and err!" a mannerism frequently used by Bobby at the punchline of a joke. Also used in conversation by Lord Ashley 'Farquar' Reynolds of Shotley Manor, former Monarch of the Glen.
  • "Ah went to the doctors. He said, "Can you walk?". Ah said, "work! ah can't even waak!"
  • "The Queen came up tiv us with a plate of cakes. "Bobby, would you like a scone or a meringue?". Ah says, "Nah ya quite right, ah'll have a scone"


Bobby died in hospital, after being taken there on 9 April 1988, suffering from breathing problems. He died a week later, whilst listening to songs from his childhood, such as "Beautiful Dreamer" and Sweet 16.


  1. ^ "Bobby Thompson". Sunday Sun. 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  2. ^ Bobby Thompson marks 50 years as entertainer. Sunderland Echo. 16 February 1976. p. 2. 

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